LPfiction

Category Linkin Park

so you hit the lights and i'll lock the doors. by frostfall

A/N: Title comes from the song "Let's Hurt Tonight" by OneRepublic.




*****




Mike draws much more often now.


Back then, the sight of Mike drawing out of leisure was an occasional occurrence, one Chester would witness before bidding his best friend goodnight when they were on tour.


He supposes that it’s because they have more free time on their hands now. Mike doesn't need to take the time to rehearse, write songs, or even call home.


That's one of the luxuries that the end of the world has provided them – time.


"What're you sketching?" Chester questions him.


The sun has began to set, their shadows lengthening with each step they take. More of the undead would be out and about soon. Chester checks his pistol's cartridge while waiting for an answer.


"Things."


"Things like what?"


"Like your ugly ass."


Chester sticks his tongue out and elbows him lightly. Mike rolls his eyes, a sliver of a smile threatening to cross his lips.




*****




Before the end of the world, Chester never held a gun in his hands.


He’s thought of running to the store and buying one, even mulled over the idea of shooting his abuser several times before. It’s only the horrifying thought of playing God with somebody’s life that scares him into passiveness.


Now, he realizes how much of a knack he has for pulling the triggers, watching the bodies fall like dominos.


Maybe if these bodies are not already dead, he would’ve hated himself more than he does now.


Mike never liked Chester using a gun for some reason but he has a guess. He chides him for his recklessness one day and hands him a knife.


“Less likely to attract the rest,” Mike adds. “Plus we need the ammo for emergencies.”


Sure, Chester still could pull off stabbing unsuspecting infected despite being less stealthy than his best friend. But there’s something about drawing a gun and firing, something about the adrenaline that courses through his veins as they rush into a frenzy to keep the undead at bay.


When it’s over, Mike picks up his machete and cleans the blood off it with a torn piece of cloth. “I don't why you're always finding new ways to get yourself killed,” he disapproves, sounding resigned. “It's like you got a death wish or something.”


Chester changes his pistol’s cartridge silently. He doesn't have an answer to that. He himself doesn't understand why he gets the sudden urge to whip up his pistol and throw them into unnecessary danger.


Is it the thrill? The impatience that itches at him, that begs to break free from his stealth approaches?


Or maybe he just wants to feel something, anything but the hollow feelings inside him.


He never replies. They both clean themselves up, scour for supplies, and take their leave.




*****




They don't dwell in the camps they stumble upon.


There’s no point in settling down in a place where mirror images are their neighbours. Having one around is already enough.


The camp they stop by at today is in better shape than most. It offers them a tin of coffee, a couple packs of cigarettes for Chester (much to Mike’s disapproval), arrows for Mike, and a coat and a pair of gloves each for the coming winter.


Chester is grateful. Most camps could barely afford to house their own habitants, let alone part with essentials to a couple of strangers. And thankfully like with the rest of the camps they’ve stopped by, nobody recognizes them.


Don’t get him wrong, he loved his fans and he loved his band and the music they make. But the fame that came with it all was taking such a toll on him - the hate they get from critics and the public alike, especially the harsh words from their own fucking fans tears him apart. He doesn’t know how much more can he take.


Now, all he needs to do is one thing and one thing only – survive. That’s another perk of the apocalypse, he supposes.


He almost inquires for a beanie to replace his own, which is almost falling apart. Instead, he swallows his words and follows Mike out of the place.




*****




They find a dirty and torn map underneath a caved house.


"We could try going back to Chicago," Chester suggests.


Mike shakes his head, his eyes trained on the map. Despite its horrid state, it is faintly legible. "It's probably in a worse state than LA.”


Chester knows he says that to spare themselves the heartache of seeing them, the people they know and loved dead or turned.


"We should at least try," he argues. "You never know. We could find... find..."


Find what? Carcasses? Destruction? Death?


Closure, the tiny voice in his head states in a whisper.


He isn't sure about that. When they had left Chicago for Los Angeles and Arizona, they bid their farewells with an air of fear, relief, and anger.


Would Chicago receive them back in kind, kinder than the treatment they have given her?


"Find what?" Mike asks, meeting his gaze with calculated eyes. He wears that expression more often these days. Chester hates cold and calculated Mike. Cold and calculated Mike surfaces more times than it should. It doesn’t suit him at all. "There is nothing there for us. Nothing."


There's truth in his words. After all, they left for Los Angeles and Arizona in hopes to find their wives and children.


Instead, they found dead bodies and the worst pain and grief they’ve ever felt.


If their own homes died on them, what would a random city offer them?


The band, counters the little voice again. The band is still there. Possibly dead but they’re there.


Chester doesn't tell him that, just stares back with as much ferocity as he could muster.


Mike studies him for a long time, his dark gaze hard and icy. Finally, he sighs. Suddenly he looks horribly weary.


"Fine."


And so it goes.




*****




It happened sometime during the night.


Chester doesn't really remember the exact details. He barely recalls waking to inhumane moans, rousing Mike, frantically finding a pistol nearby a dead security guard, and putting a bullet through Brad’s head.


But he clearly remembers Mike's screams of terror, the stain of red on his tanned skin as Chester drags him out of their hotel they’re calling home for the night.


By the time they've realized the burning city they are in is Chicago, America is no more.




*****




They sleep together now.


Sometimes they share a bed. Other times, they lay next to each other on the floor, or the ground.


It’s been a long while since they have done so. Chester barely remembers when. Maybe it was when they had enough money to book their own rooms, or when Mike got married. Heck, maybe even when he himself remarried.


Maybe when he woke up one night and realized how beautiful Mike looked fast asleep next to him.


Which was a very scary thought.


Chester never understood and deciphered the odd feeling he felt that night. After all, Mike is Mike. Chester is Chester. Why would that ever change?


But now that Mike curls into him, his dark hair covering his closed eyes, with his face buried in the crook of Chester’s neck, fusing with him, does he understand.


Mike is still Mike and Chester is still Chester. Yet, still different.




*****




Chester doesn’t quit smoking. Mike disapproves.


Mike always disapproves but back then, he lets it slide. But now that the undead has risen, he’s more prickly about it.


"It'll kill you,” he says for the hundredth time.


"Says who?"


Mike opens his mouth, launching into a bias and supposedly latest tirade of news he read a few months ago; before the undead rose and feasted on flesh.


Chester exhales and watches the ringlets of smoke float up to the ceiling as he dimly listens.


He needs this. He needs this to keep him sane. The burning feeling in his lungs assures him he is alive. The smoke that swirls in front of him tells him that the world he lives in is real.


But Mike wouldn't understand that, would he?


Chester sneaks a peak at Mike, interrupting his best friend’s words by cupping his now bushy chin. Mike falters for a moment.


"You need a shave," Chester declares in disdain.


Mike strokes his stumpy but bushy beard. "I thought a change in style was in order.


“Emulating Charles Darwin, are we?"


“Not a bad person to emulate.”


Chester finds himself cracking a smile, the first in a long time. He lifts himself off the bed, tugging on Mike’s arm. "As much as I'd like to witness your full caveman transformation, I do think that you need a nice, proper shave from yours truly. Don't want people thinking I'm actually travelling with a caveman."


“I thought you found my beard attractive.”


“Among other things.”


He almost drops his cigarette, his entire body freezing. He definitely didn’t mean for that to slip out of his fucking mouth, fuck.


Their eyes locked with one another. Mike’s giving Chester the look, the one that he flashes more often that he should, the one that intensely straddles the line between friendship and romance. Chester wonders if he looks at Mike like that too, maybe even now.


“You are, you know,” Chester says softly. “Beautiful.”


They don't move a muscle until Mike finally breaks the tension. “Flattery will get you anything, Bennington," he says, his voice sounding slightly husky. "But not this.”


Chester rolls his eyes, pulling a resisting Mike to the bathroom. The electricity had gone out long ago so the dim lighting by the setting sun will do.


He puts out his cigarette before focusing his attention on Mike’s beard. Mike returns the favour by offering words for Chester to bicker back at.


It’s moments like these that makes Chester think of the times before the undead rose to life.




*****




Chicago is a disaster.


It is as awful as Mike had predicted, as horrible as Chester hoped it wouldn't be. It’s in a worse state than they last left it.


The hotel they were staying at is destroyed like the rest of the town, a hollow shell of what it used to be. They deduce that Brad’s body has long been decomposed, and Chester vaguely remembers sidestepping Rob and Dave’s ones in the havoc that was last year.


Much to Chester’s surprise, Mike and him actually find what’s left of Joe ravaging and mauling a disfigured body.


He finds no problem in putting a bullet through his once-friend and bandmate’s brain.


They bury their dear friend, carefully and solemnly, with gloved hands and tear-streaked cheeks.


Mike is right. There is nothing left for them here.




*****




They return to Joe’s grave when it begins to snow.


Chester would've like to set a flower or two on the snowed ground, an apology for all those times he caused his old friend such heartsick and anger.


But winter has arrived and the flowers are dead. But his lack of offering was mostly due to the fact that Chester couldn't bear to make Mike cry again. Months ago, he broke down sobbing at the sight of the dying dandelions Chester picked for him, in the hopes of cheering him up.


Chester doesn't linger long, gives his best friend space to converse with a ghost one-on-one. He leans against a tree not far from where Mike is, and smokes for a little while. He crushes the cigarette under his foot when he notices Mike’s body shake.


"C'mere," he says as he approaches. Chester wraps his arms around him, and lets him stain his coat.


He hates this, hates what the world has done to them, to their friends, to everybody they know and loved.


Chester finds it hard to believe that there’s somebody watching over them right now, especially when Mike is in tears. If some higher being existed, Mike Shinoda wouldn’t be in pieces and crying a river right now.


He cups Mike’s face gently. Chester could feel the uncertainty radiating off him, the tremor that courses down his spine.


Maybe Chester's more practical now, now that he’s older and wiser, now that the world came crashing down and wising up seemed like the best choice at the time.


But he's not practical enough to stop himself from doing what he's about to do. Not even the fact that they are hovering over their friend's grave could deter him.


Chester pulls Mike’s face towards him and hesitantly but softly melds their lips together..


Mike tastes of blood, of anguish, of pain. He tastes of salt, his lips wet from his tears (Chester’s tears?).


But he also tastes of strawberries, of coffee.


Of home.


Mike doesn't fight him. For a moment, he is stock still.


Chester suddenly pulls back, ready to run. Mike interrupts, dragging him closer to consume him as well.


If everybody they know are watching from wherever they are, they would've dragged the two of them all the way down to the deepest parts of hell.


Chester is not practical enough to care.




*****




His lack of impracticality costs him silence and the cold shoulder for the rest of the week.




*****




It’s been silently decided that once the winter turns too harsh, they would make one of the untouched houses their temporary sanctuary, until the weather is fine to travel in.


In the meantime, they take it upon themselves to search the city for resources. They kill, they gather, they cry, and do it all over again.


And now Chester is struggling to upright himself when one of the undead pins him down, its rotting teeth bared at him.


It’s a fatal mistake, leaving Mike at the house without notifying him. He left thinking that Mike hates him, that he’ll never speak or look at him again. He hasn't since Chester impulsively and stupidly kissed him.


And now he never will.


He's about to let his grip on the undead slacken, to finally give in, when an arrow finds itself home in the middle of the infected's brain. Chester pushes the slackening body off him, staggering away in disgust.


He almost turned, almost turned into one of them.


He almost lost his mind, lost himself.


He almost let himself willingly become one of them.


It is too much. Everything is too much. He doesn't know how he can continue on, how he could do this for the rest of his life.


What if it happens again? He can't… he can't–


He doesn't realize he is sobbing until he feels Mike guide him back to their makeshift home, his arms around Chester’s thin frame.


Their eyes find each other for the first time in a while when they reach the doorstep. And then suddenly Chester’s arms are full of Mike and his eyes are wet and all he can taste is salt.


“Don’t leave,” Mike whispers into his neck, his warm breath a comfort. “Please don’t leave.”


Chester closes his eyes. “Never.”


They stay there for a while. Time doesn't stop to stare.




*****




The bitter frost keeps them inside. They scour the house to while time away.


They pause their activities for four days when Mike finds a copy of A Thousand Suns under a creaking bed. They spent the rest of the day crying and mourning, too tired to move.


Today, Chester finds cans of beer and extra ammo in the garage. Mike finds a set of drawing pencils in the office and a couple books on poetry in the master bedroom.


Mike keeps the pencils and gifts Chester the books. Chester compares ammo type and they both split the beer. Chester drinks and watches Mike drawing into the night, his light sketches neat and his eyebrows knitted in a furrow.


When he decides that the beer has made him brave enough, Chester sidles up to his best friend and whispers in his ear, "I shouldn't."


He notices a tremor runs down Mike’s spine but he doesn't look up from his sketch. "Shouldn't what?" Mike questions, his own breath smelling of beer and oddly sounds more composed than a tipsy person should.


"I shouldn't want you this badly."


His grip on the pencil slackens. Chester waits for the punch to land.


Mike pushes him up against the wall instead.




*****




"What would everybody think?" Mike wonders aloud as he traces the inked patterns etched onto Chester's collarbone.


Chester couldn't help but shiver at the feathery touch. “Depends on who we’re talking about.”


“The band, for starters.”


He lets out a soft chuckle. "They’ll probably start yelling all at once. Then they’ll freak out about the impact it would have on the band. And then probably congratulate us and sprout some shit about how they’ll always support us or something.”


Mike hums. "I can see that happening."


Chester pauses for a couple of heartbeats. "Do you?"


"Do I what?"


"Care. Care about what people think."


Mike stops to ponder. "There aren't many people around to judge us," he finally concurs.


"But say the world hasn't ended. Would you?"


He gives it another thought. "This... us... wouldn’t have happened," he replies quietly.


Chester doesn't doubt that answer. He probably would've stayed and be in love with Talinda and never rediscovered his buried feelings until he turns to ash.


In the very moment, Chester wants to tell the man by his side everything – his bottled attraction that Chester had for him as the years rolled by, the slow pain of losing him to somebody else, the fear of the possibility that Mike would come to the realization that Chester isn’t worth sticking around for.


He keeps silent instead. They don't need acceptance, not in this world.


In this world, no one can judge them, write out tabloids, send hate comments, and spread gossip and lies online.


In this world, Linkin Park is dead, their friends and bandmates not around to react.


In this world, their families are dead, possibly cursing them wherever they are now.


In this world, they’re Mike and Chester, two ordinary men trying to survive the end of times.


"You still haven't answered my question," Chester points out.


“Didn’t I already?”


“You know what I mean.”


Mike doesn't reply for the longest moment. Chester’s conscious is slipping away when he responds.


"No, not at all."




*****




They decide Chicago is another bridge to burn when the snow begins to melt and the flowers start to bloom.


Chester admires his best friend’s strength (or is it lover?), how he soldiers on despite living in a town full of ghosts, that he doesn't give in now that greenery is alive again.


One day, Chester will tell him this. One day, he will tell every single detail he has kept inside. One day, he will no longer bury all his feelings at the bottom of all his thoughts.


Because as bleak his world is now, Chester would rather live in it with Mike by his side than an idyllic one without him.


But that day is not today and Chester is okay with that.


"You ready?" he asks, slipping his pistol back at his side, lit cigarette between his fingers.


Mike slings his bow over his shoulder and checks his supply of arrows. "Yeah.”


They begin their long trek down south.

Reviews Add review